Homilette for Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(Philippians 3:3-8a)

Circumcision being what it is, we might be shocked by Paul calling the Christian community “the circumcision.” Very likely Paul uses the term for affect, that is, to rouse his readers’ attention to what he is saying. But, like the instance in the second letter to the Corinthians when he calls Christ “sin,” a deeper truth is conveyed by his choice of words.

The prophets saw that circumcision of the male sexual organ as a sign of covenant with the Lord was not enough to assure the people’s virtue. Jeremiah recognized that circumcision of the heart, the proverbial seat of inner motivation, was necessary if the person was to live righteously. Today with cardiac surgery facilitating the proper functioning of the heart, we can more easily understand what Jeremiah meant. As human hearts can physically clog with fats, they can spiritually clog with desires for pleasure, power, and prestige.

The grace of Christ has altered the Christian heart so that it functions efficaciously. With Baptism love floods our hearts so that egotism is removed and love for God and neighbor takes hold. In communion with the faithful of every land we become the people that God intended when He called for circumcision. We become His people who do what is right because it is right even to the point of sacrificing ourselves to do the right.